August 01, 2005

King Fahd Has Died

Saudi Arabia's King Fahd has died in a Riyahd hospital. King Fahd(website) is succeeded by Crown Prince Abdullah, his brother. Abdullah is 81. I can only hope that whichever of the copious royals who succeeds him in the next few years is a peaceful soul rather than a jihadi. Nonetheless, in this time of loss my condolences go out to the members of the royal family who were close to the king. The king died early today.


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia's ruler, King Fahd, died early Monday in a Riyadh hospital and his brother, Crown Prince Abdullah, has been appointed the country's new monarch, the Saudi royal court announced in a statement.


"With all sorrow and sadness, the royal court in the name of his highness Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz and all members of the family announces the death of the servant of the two shrines, King Fahd bin Abdel Aziz," according to a statement read on state-run Saudi TV by the country's information minister.

Saudi TV, which said the king was 84 years old, broke with regular broadcasting to announce King Fahd's death.

Quranic verse recitals followed the announcement by the information minister, Iyad bin Amin Madani, whose voice wavered with emotion as he read the statement.

"He died after suffering an illness," Mr. Madani said in the statement. "God allows the custodian of the two holy mosques, King Fahd, with great mercy and forgiveness to reside in his wide heaven."


King Fahd sought to modernize his desert kingdom while balancing change against tribal tradition and orthodox Islam, but a stroke a decade ago left him a ruler in name only during tumultuous times for the world's biggest oil producer.

The king died early Monday at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, where he was admitted on May 27 for unspecified medical tests, an official at the hospital said. At the time of his widely publicized hospitalization, which caused concern at home and abroad, officials said he was suffering from pneumonia and a high fever.

In recent weeks, Saudi officials have been saying the King Fahd's health had been improving and that he was even preparing to leave hospital.

King Fahd suffered a debilitating stroke in 1995 that confined him mainly to a figurehead role in the kingdom.


 Saudi Monarchy Reacts Slowly to a Dangerously Changing Society
The link just above, Saudi Monarchy Reacts Slowly to a Dangerously Changing Society leads to a superb analysis/article in WSJ by Hugh Pope. I recommend it as a good read.

His half brother Crown Prince Abdullah, 81, has been Saudi Arabia's de facto leader since then and has led the country's battle against Islamic extremism and terrorism.

The king brought the kingdom, holder of the world's largest oil reserves and home to Islam's holiest shrines, closer to the U.S. during more than two decades as monarch.


Posted by Seth at 11:18 AM |